BY: JUSTIN RIMPI
November 2, 2018
When the FDU Women’s Soccer team hosted Sacred Heart University on Sunday, this wasn’t just any regular season game. This game was Senior Day for the Knights’ two lone seniors, Elma Kolenovic and Julia Shea. This was the last time these players would run out onto the University Stadium pitch.
These two women were vital in helping guide the Knights to many NEC tournament appearances. For Kolenovic, this included a 2015 berth into the NCAA tournament. Shea was not a member of the 2015 Knights team that made it into this NCAA tournament, but between the two of them they assisted the Knights to four straight tournament appearances.
“Shea has been a relentless defender. She has played almost every minute the last three years. She never gives up on a play…we know that we could step out onto the field and we don’t have to worry about that position,” said head coach Eric Teppe.
“She’s [Kolenovic] battled injuries, but she still comes out at the top of the leading scorers every single year. So, it means two big-time players that had great careers. We’re proud that they played as an FDU Knight,” said Teppe.
The Knights finished the season 6-9-3 (4-3-1 in NEC play). Sacred Heart finished off their 2018 campaign 5-13 (3-5 in NEC play).
The Knights lost by a score of 1-0 where the team’s offense could never get going.
“It’s disappointing that this is their last home game and that we played this way,” said Teppe. “I felt that we were a little flat today. I don’t know if there was so much emotion before the game that we came out onto the field and we didn’t have it.”
Since the Knights entered Sunday’s game with an NEC tournament berth already locked up, the game against Sacred Heart could have been very important as it pertains to seeding purposes. With this loss, the Knights are guaranteed to have the number four seed in the NEC tournament. This will set up a semi-final match with the top-seeded Central Connecticut Blue Devils on Nov. 2.
As the top seed, Central Connecticut will get to host the NEC tournament.
“It wasn’t a good way to go into the tournament. It’s not what we wanted to do to prepare for the tournament,” said Teppe.
The single goal of the contest came in the 17th minute of the first half when Sacred Heart senior midfielder Maranda Gibbons knocked one into the back of the net passed junior goalkeeper Amanda Fitzgerald. The shot was originally ruled an own goal, but a few minutes later the official scoring changed crediting the goal to Gibbons, her third of the season.
The Knights had more than twice the number of shots (15, 7 shots on goal) compared to their opponent (7, 5 shots on goal). Even with such a disparity, the Knights were unable to find the back of the net. The Knights’ best chance to score in the game came in the 52nd minute, but sophomore midfielder Andrea Garcia was unable to convert what looked to be a good opportunity.
As the game wound down, the Knights tried to level the score, but were unable to do so. The Knights took four shots in the final 13 minutes of the game, all to no avail.
The Knights have earned a berth in the NEC tournament for the sixth year in a row, one of six NEC teams to be able to accomplish such a feat.
“I think that’s a positive. I think it says a lot about the players that we have,” said Teppe. “I think it also says a little bit why we’re not happy today. We’re disappointed.”
Sacred Heart closed the game out down a player when Lindsay Carallo was given a red card midway through the 85th minute of the game. The Knights still finished the game shut-out of the goal.
“It’s not just about making the tournament. We want to win the tournament. We put ourselves in the position that now we finish fourth and now have to play at Central in the first round. You want to play them in the final. You don’t want to have to play them in the semi-final,” said Teppe.
Kolenovic and Shea look to extend their college careers by at least two more games, hopefully culminating in a second trip in the last four years to the NCAA tournament and ultimately an NEC tournament victory.
Photos by Justin Rimpi.